WWE Royal Rumble 2012 Preview: 15 Burning Questions Fans Want Answered
The Royal Rumble is less than a week away, and it's the first official step on the road to WrestleMania.
The outcomes of all the Royal Rumble matches will play a huge role in story lines going forward and likely give us a pretty good indication of what we can expect to see in Miami.
Of course, the result of every match could have a domino effect that sends shockwaves throughout the WWE.
A win for a star here and a loss for another star there may open up the door for some surprises along the way.
So, just how will the 2012 Royal Rumble play out?
Well, that depends largely on the answers to these 15 burning questions.
15. Will We Get Anything from the Divas? a Return Perhaps?
The Divas division is in shambles.
They've been relegated to about 30 seconds of TV time per show, and Divas Champion Beth Phoenix has been nowhere to be found over the last several weeks.
So, I honestly have no idea what we can expect out of the Divas at the Royal Rumble.
There's been absolutely no build whatsoever to a Divas Championship match or even any type of feud, although I wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of Divas match added to the card at the last second.
I'm sure the match will be forgettable, but perhaps we will get a shocking return from someone like Kharma or, more likely, Layla to spice things up a bit.
14. Will Cody Rhodes Battle His Brother Goldust?
Although the creative team has been building toward an eventual match between Cody Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes (a.k.a. Goldust), there was no interaction between the two on last week's Smackdown.
That could be an indication that the inevitable Rhodes/Rhodes match may be pushed back to a later date, likely at either Elimination Chamber or even WrestleMania.
The Royal Rumble card still could use another match or two to round it out, though, so perhaps we'll see some late build between Dusty and Cody this week that leads to them facing off at the pay-per-view.
These two deserve a chance to shine, so whichever PPV gives them the best opportunity to do that is the one I'd put their match on.
13. Will Any New Superstars Debut During the Royal Rumble Match?
According to a report by WrestleZone.com, there's a chance that we could see some wrestlers from Florida Championship Wrestling make their main roster debut during the 30-Man Royal Rumble match.
That's fine with me, as long as it's done right.
If you're going to call up a developmental worker, then you have to make sure that they make a huge impact in the match. If not, then what's the point?
It would instantly establish an FCW worker as a major player on the main roster and would be a good way to start off the WWE career of someone like Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins.
12. What Role Will Brodus Clay Play in the Royal Rumble Match?
Before Brodus Clay returned on Raw a couple of weeks ago, the majority of us expected to see him come back as a monster.
But since Clay debuted under a new comedic gimmick, it remains to be seen how he'll be booked going forward.
Sure, he's squashed a couple of jobbers already. But that may or may not translate to a memorable performance in the Royal Rumble match.
I expected a heel Clay to eliminate a ton of competitors and last until the end of the match, but I'm not sure if this new hilarious version of Clay will do the same.
11. Can Daniel Bryan Overcome Two Behemoths?
As revealed on last week's Smackdown, Daniel Bryan will face Mark Henry and The Big Show in a Triple Threat Steel Cage match for the World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble.
In other words, Bryan is screwed. Or is he?
If Bryan was still playing the underdog baby face champion, then I'd say there's only a slight chance that he retains his title. But his gradual heel turn is in full effect, his cowardly ways are shining through, and that likely means he'll leave the pay-per-view as World champion.
Maybe it's just me, but I think Bryan's World title run has only just started.
10. Will Bryan Officially Turn Heel?
Sure, Daniel Bryan has been acting like a prick and getting drowned in boos lately.
But almost nothing he's done has been 100 percent heel, and he still hasn't had that defining moment where you say, "Oh yeah, there was his heel turn."
Although he's been a jerk to AJ and been a slimy weasel during his matches, he's still yet to obviously cheat to win his matches or do what almost all heels do (rip on the fans).
I'm still waiting for Bryan to do something that makes his heel turn complete, and that could very well come this Sunday when he's trapped inside of a steel cage with two monsters.
9. Which Superstars Will Last Until the End of the Royal Rumble Match?
The goal of every superstar who enters the Royal Rumble is to win it, but reaching the end of it is still a major accomplishment.
Aside from Santino Marella making it to the end last year, the final four or five competitors are usually some of the biggest stars in the WWE.
If the final wrestlers in this year's match are, let's say, Wade Barrett, Sheamus, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton, then that's a pretty good indication that huge plans are in store for all four of those guys going forward.
Win or lose, they'll likely play a significant role in the buildup to WrestleMania and the pay-per-view itself.
So, pay attention to who's around at the conclusion of the match because chances are that, even if they lose, their performances will earn them a high-profile WrestleMania match.
8. Will the Outcome of the Royal Rumble Matter as Much It Should?
The winner of the Royal Rumble match gets a guaranteed World title shot at WrestleMania, while everyone else goes home empty-handed.
At least that's how it's supposed to be.
But from 2005 to 2010, the last wrestler eliminated from the Royal Rumble match went on to compete for a World title at WrestleMania anyway.
In other words, the outcome of the Royal Rumble meant diddly squat.
Let's see if that happens again this year, or like with Santino Marella in 2011, being eliminated last is equivalent to being eliminated first.
7. Will Any Stars Return for a One-off Appearance?
Check out this report from WrestleZone.com:
Unlike last year's Royal Rumble match, which featured 40 wrestlers and saw names like Booker T and Kevin Nash make their WWE returns, WZ has been told that this year's match is more likely to focus on names that are already with the company, and if there are any surprise entrants, they will likely be names such as The Undertaker, who is not considered an "outside talent.
Although this seems to indicate that we won't see any one-off appearances like we usually do, I just don't think that's the case.
I mean, why stop doing something that is usually one of the highlights of the 30-Man Royal Rumble match?
In 2011, Booker T and Kevin Nash got two of the biggest pops of the night for their surprise appearances, and that's one of the biggest reasons that fans tune into the bout.
I doubt that the WWE will deprive us of seeing some blasts from the pasts this year, even if that means fewer spots for guys currently on the main roster.
6. Can John Cena Rise Above Hate and Defeat Kane?
The thought going through many of our minds: "Oh boy, here we go again."
The WWE loves to build up Cena as the ultimate underdog for some reason and then "shock" us by having him overcome the odds.
It's the same tired routine that's been going on four six years, and it needs to stop.
I just don't think it will, at least not at the Royal Rumble.
5. Which Injured or Absent Stars Will Come Back?
There are a boatload of WWE stars who are missing from action at the moment, either because they're injured or because they're simply being held off on TV.
I think we can bank on least one or two of those stars returning during the Royal Rumble match. We just don't know which ones it will be.
You've got guys like The Undertaker and Triple who could theoretically come back at any time—I say this because I assume they're healthy—and then you have guys like Christian and Alberto Del Rio, whose injury statuses seem to be up in the air.
So, it'll be interesting to see which of these stars make their triumphant returns during the Royal Rumble match, and it'll be even more interesting to see if they might actually win it.
4. Will We See a Return That Almost No One Expects?
The great thing about the Royal Rumble match is that you never really know what's going to happen.
Stars from the past will show up, lower-card workers will eliminate main eventers and guys will last from the very beginning of the match to the very end of it.
Of course, what we fans often hold out hope for, though, is the return of a superstar that almost no one expects to see.
What if Brock Lesnar returns during the Rumble to build up to a WrestleMania match? What if Batista returns for his final run with the company?
Those are the potential returns that will really get us excited because they're not just one-off appearances. They're jaw-dropping comebacks that could rock the foundation of the WWE.
3. Will Chris Jericho Finally Speak?
Chris Jericho continues to give us the silent treatment, and while he's pulling it off marvelously, I know that I'm ready to finally hear him speak.
I want to know why he's back, which star he's going to target (likely CM Punk) and what he has in store for us going forward.
The obvious way for Jericho to start talking would be for him to win the Royal Rumble match and then blast the fans for cheering him afterward.
But who knows if that it'll actually happen or not.
I know that many of us want to hear Jericho finally open his mouth, especially because he's so great at cutting promos, but I don't think that'll happen until the next night on Monday Night Raw.
2. Will John Laurinaitis Screw CM Punk out of the WWE Championship?
On last week's episode of Monday Night Raw, John Laurinaitis admitted to Mick Foley that, if given the opportunity, he would screw CM Punk out of the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble.
His words: "You're damn right I will!"
Now, this could be a foreshadowing of what's to come (Laurinaitis screwing Punk), or it could just be yet another way to make Laurinaitis look stupid (when Punk somehow ends up retaining his title).
I don't think Punk should drop the WWE Championship, though it would add an interesting twist to what the WWE is obviously trying to turn into today's version of Austin vs. McMahon.
So, Laurinaitis may not succeed at screwing Punk over, but I'm sure he'll spend the entire match trying to.
1. Who Will the 30-Man Royal Rumble Match?
This is why the vast majority of fans watch this pay-per-view: We want to see who will win the 30-Man Royal Rumble match and move on to the main event of WrestleMania.
I actually think that, unlike with Alberto Del Rio last year, the outcome of this year's match isn't as obvious as we think.
The two favorites have to be Randy Orton and Chris Jericho, but I wouldn't count out someone like Sheamus or Wade Barrett winning it, either. Heck, we might be really shocked when Christian or another returning star wins it, too.
Since the top two matches at WrestleMania will be The Undertaker defending his streak and The Rock vs. John Cena, this is the year to take a chance on an unconventional Royal Rumble winner.
While Y2J and Orton are the most logical choices, I wouldn't bet all my money on either of them winning.